Simon: It’s known that “Michael You’ve Got a Lot to Answer For” was about Michael Hutchence, who was alive when I wrote it. The song took on a deeper significance when he lost his life. “Who Do You Think You Are?” was about my relationship with Warren.
Warren: There’s three very personal lyrics on the album: “Out of My Mind,” “Buried in the Sand” and “Michael.” All of them are dealing with serious situations with real people in our circle. I never thought of this record as a downer, however — quite the opposite!
Duranduran.com 12 October 2017, Medazzaland 20th anniversary memories
The re-launched Cherry Lipstick has had a major focus on nostalgia – celebrating the history of the band. We’re nearly at the half-way stage of our retrospective review of each album, to appreciate and re-consider the history of Duran Duran through their music and times they lived in. This involves considering what the band were up to at that point, how the previous album had done – and who was in or out of the band at that point.
Medazzaland featured the latest band line-up change with John leaving and came off the back of the critical and commercial disaster of Thank You. The mood in the camp, we have guessed, was grim but determined. The album itself is enjoyed and fairly well-regarded, as evidenced by the response to the CL review last month.
Now, with the 20th anniversary this week, we have the bands’ recollections, and a small but significant curve-ball from Simon. Alongside long-known reflection that he was unable to fulfil his song-writing duties at the time, is this admittance that Who Do You Think You Are? was about Warren.
Let's view the song again, now with a different lens:
I’m giving you the news, your domination’s through. You gave the best you got now I’m out on top.
If you know what’s it’s all about, who do you think you are?
Always trying to control me, who do you think you are?
Ever wonder how I feel inside? Sometimes I think it’s just a game to you. And sometimes I play along, but I’ve got a mind!
You’ve got to live with yourself for the rest of your life – do you understand?
Why do you feel ashamed when you can’t explain the things I say to other people?
It’s just occurred to me – you might really want to be me.
Alongside the self-pity (never attractive) there is some distinct bile and unpleasantness in those words. Words that you would think twice before saying to someone’s face. You might think that if you were going to say them, you’d be effectively either picking a fight, or knowing that you were ending a relationship as things were so bad. What you wouldn’t expect is to find someone singing those words whilst standing next to them. And then go on to stay working with them for another three years. That suggests cowardice, avoidance and a degree of spite.
It would even appear that the man towards whom these words were directed still doesn’t know. Warren names three ‘personal’ songs without realising there is a fourth right there – and it’s about himself. Warren contributes for the official DD site with words that are kind, reflective and proud. And then he has had them juxtapositioned with Simon’s unkindness.
Nostalgia is a dangerous game. We remember what we choose and ignore the rest. Sometimes revisiting scenes of past glories can be disconcerting. People remember things differently, or there was a dark side unseen at the time. Things maybe didn’t work out from that long-lost sunny afternoon as well for everyone as it did for you. Or new information arises that colours the chosen memory. Personally I’ve always enjoyed Who Do You Think You Are and Medazzaland and wanted to know what Simon had to say about it. In the grand scheme of things it's not a biggie, but, maybe, I wish I didn’t know.